I recently went back to social media to increase the social outreach for my blog. At first, I experimented with SocialPilot but quickly switched to using Zapier for automating social media posts whenever I release a new post through my blog.
In this guide, I’ll go through the setup process for automating social media outreach using Zapier.
For a few years now, I have been avoiding social media altogether. I get easily addicted to social media, and often it causes too much stress to deal with. The thing that pushes me away from using social media is that I don’t feel like spending time there is worth my time. Most of the time, using social media is just scrolling endlessly without getting any value for the time spent.
However, I can’t deny that using social media has benefits, especially when you want to grow your blog and your reader audience. Automation is an excellent option for someone like me, who doesn’t like to spend all their time on social media but would still like to get readers to their blog.
What is social media automation?
Social media automation is automating social media posting with automation software, such as Zapier.
For example, I’m using social media automation to automatically publish social media posts whenever I release a new blog post on my blog.
When I release a new blog post on my blog, automation software analyses the change it has detected and processes the information into smaller chunks, which can then be used to automatically publish social media posts on different social networks via APIs.
By automating publishing social media posts based on my blog’s RSS feed, I don’t have to spend any time sharing my blog posts online on all different social networks.
Using Zapier for social media automation from a blog’s RSS feed
Zapier isn’t necessarily built with social media automation in mind but rather as a comprehensive automation and integration platform.
Most software primarily built for automating social media posting cost quite a lot of money. While some of these software does provide additional features, none of them come close to giving an equal amount of value to what Zapier can do for free.
Zapier offers five free Zaps and 100 tasks per month in their free plan. This means that you can have five different automations that can run a total amount of 100 times per month.
This should be enough for social media posting from a blog if you don’t use more than five different social networks and publish more than 20 posts per month.
If this isn’t enough, you might have to consider subscribing to some of their paid plans to increase the amount of Zaps and Tasks per month.
The first thing you want to ensure is that you have a blog with an RSS feed. For most WordPress websites, an RSS feed is located under /feed/ path at the end of the URL.
The second thing to prepare before doing any automations with Zapier is to have your social media accounts in place.
The next step is to sign up to Zapier and create your free account. Once you have completed your sign-up, you should find yourself in the Zapier dashboard, from where your can start creating new automations.
1. Create Zap
To create new automation (Zap), click the “Create Zap” -button on the Zapier dashboard.
2. Create an event
To automate publishing posts to any social media when you release a new blog post, the first step is to select “RSS by Zapier” as the Event for your Zap.
For “Trigger event” select “New Item in Feed”. The Zap will trigger when a new blog post is recognized in your blog’s RSS feed.
Once selected, click continue.
3. Set up a trigger
Next, you have to set up the trigger to listen for new blog posts in your RSS feed by typing in the actual RSS feed URL to the “Feed URL” field.
Usually, Feed URLs are publically available, so you don’t need to fill in username or password fields for trigger setup.
However, you need to select the option for “What Triggers a New Feed Item?” which indicates the actual mechanism that launches the automation. The default value “Different Guid/URL”, which is also recommended, is typically the right choice.
After adding your RSS Feed URL and selecting the “What Triggers a New Feed Item?”, click continue.
Next, you’ll be asked to run a quick test to see if the RSS Feed URL you entered responds and returns correct results.
Hopefully, you’ll get similar looking results from running the test like in the image below:
If you run into any issues while running the test, go back to the previous step. Otherwise, click “Continue” to proceed to the next step.
4. Set up an action
Creating action for your Zap is where the magic happens. Here, you can decide which integration you want to choose, in our case, social media platform.
There are many options available for Zapier free tier like:
And many more.
Whichever one you want to set up, you’ll be asked to select “Action event” that reflects the actual action that will happen based on the information found on the RSS Item information.
Here, I chose “Twitter” as the app and “Create Tweet” as the “Action Event”. I’ve also set up Action Events for Facebook Pages, LinkedIn, Medium, and Instagram to use all my five free Zaps.
Once you’ve selected the desired app and Action Event, click continue.
5. Choosing an account
In the next step, you’ll be asked to set up the integration from Zapier to your desired social media account. You’ll be asked to grant permission to let Zapier manage your social media account on your behalf.
This means that Zapier has authorization rights to use your account credentials to, for example, create new posts in your social media account.
Once you have connected your social media account and granted access for Zapier to post on your behalf on your desired account, click “Continue”.
6. Create action
We are finally getting to the bread and butter of social media automation using Zapier.
Here, you’ll decide what post you will publish on your social media account when Zapier detects a new post in your RSS Feed.
With Twitter, for example, I’ll construct a message (Tweet) where I can add any details from my newly published RSS Feed Item.
It’s possible to add static text in the mix as well.
This step greatly varies depending on the social media platform you are setting up your Zap with.
It’s also good to keep in mind that knowing how to modify your RSS Feed and the feed items by adding additional properties in the mix allows you to transfer and publish other data through this automation process. For example, my Hugo RSS Feed generator didn’t add any blog post images to my feed items, so I added them to the feed manually and, therefore, was able to add them to my Zapier automation.
Once you have your social media post finalized, proceed to the next and final step by clicking “Continue”.
7. Finalize Zap
If everything goes smooth sailing, you should be asked to run the last test for your Zap before you can activate your automation.
Do note that testing the automation at this point will most likely do an actual post to your social media account based on your Zap configurations.
You can, of course, skip the test and move to activate the Zap, but I recommend testing the automation at least once.
You should now have your Zap created and added to your Zaps tab in your Zapier dashboard.
You need to do this same setup process for all your different social media accounts if you want to publish posts to many different accounts at once using the Free tier of Zapier.
Things to keep in mind
While it’s tempting to automate specific tasks, such as social media posts with automation tools, like Zapier, it’s good to keep in mind that these automations do not compare to human effort. Often, real people can identify spam-like content on social media, and they scroll by them.
Social media platforms are also built to engage users on their own platforms. Posts directing traffic to external websites, such as blogs, are usually hidden by the algorithms and marked as poor content. This could mean that automated posts are not delivered to all your followers like regular human-made posts.